DUQUOIN, IL (April 16, 2011) - The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship roared back to life at the Southern Illinois Center Saturday night, as the AMA Pro Racing Stars tackled the indoor dirt oval. While all the attention was being paid to the “Young Lions”—who were widely predicted to have an advantage on the tiny bull ring—it was in fact old age and treachery came out on top of the night's slam-bang action.
Chaplin Kawasaki/Spectro Oils’ Kenny Coolbeth scored maximum points on the night. After posting the fastest time during the afternoon qualifying, Coolbeth won the fastest heat, the six-lap Dash, and led all thirty laps of the Grand National.
“This is really exciting," said Coolbeth, "I worked hard for this. This is my gig—I build my own bikes, load them in the van, drive them here, and then race them. It’s really rewarding. It’s exciting for Kawasaki and my new sponsor, Chaplin Kawasaki.”
Even though Coolbeth led all the laps, however, he wasn’t alone out there, as American Motorcyclist Association/Dallas-Fort Worth Honda’s Chris Carr shadowed the former Singles Champion to the bitter end.
“I was gaining on Kenny and I thought I had something for him,” said Carr. “He was running right at the top of the groove, and that was the fast way around, but with about six laps to go I showed him a wheel in Turn 3 and I probably should have been more patient and hoped to make him make a mistake. Second is first loser," Carr added, "so I guess I won something tonight.”
“I knew Chris was back there, I looked a couple of times,” said Coolbeth. “Once [the track] got slicked off and not so aggressive, I knew that would benefit him. I just pretty much held my line and stayed calm. Thirty laps went pretty quick. After the heat race, I thought pretty much our tongues would be in our spokes, but in the heat race you had to be pretty aggressive and it was pretty much bending the bars to get around, but in the main it was more finesse and a little more relaxing.”
After a race-long battle, defending Grand National Champion Jake
Johnson (Zanotti Racing) passed Montgomery Cycle Center’s Jared Mees on
Lap 22 and captured the last podium spot.
A little over three seconds back, a holy war was going on between Scott Powersports’ Johnny Lewis, M.E.H. Corp/Arlen Nees’s Chad Cose, Yeager Cycles’ Mick Kirkness, Southland Racing’s Jimmy Wood, Woody Kyle Racing/Fredericktown Yamaha’s Sammy Halbert, and USC Motorsports’ JD Beach.
Lap 29 found Kirkness on the ground, but he quickly rejoined the chase, though well back. When the dust finally settled, it was current points leader and double Daytona winner Sammy Halbert in fifth, with Beach, ENI USA’s Brad Baker, and Lewis all bunched behind. Wood and Cose filled out the top ten.
The first main event of the night had been the twenty-lap Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles main. Full Throttle/Gillespie Small Engine.com’s Gerit Callies backed up his Daytona win with a solid win over a fast-closing Jason Isennock (Ellicottcity Motorsports), leading all but the first lap, as Lap 1-leader Will Cato dumped his Shoe Racing Honda in Turn 2 of the second lap. Cato was up quickly and resumed his ride, though in last place.
Hayden Gillim (34 Racing/Bell Helmet) held second early over Aaron Ladd Racing’s Brett Neville, who was making his first Pro ride, and Isennock. Isennock was finally able to get into second on Lap 17 and closed to less than half a second over the last three laps, but he was ultimately unable to mount any real challenge for the win. Instead, Gillim held on to the last podium spot over Weirbach Racing’s Mikey Martin, with Neville filling out the top-five.
By virtue of his win, Callies takes sole possession of the Motorcycle-Superstore.com Pro Singles points lead with a 14-point advantage over fellow Daytona winner Mikey Avila, who brought his Boughner Racing-backed Honda home ninth. Mikey Martin is another eleven points back in third.
Sammy Halbert’s spirited ride from the back enabled him to keep his points lead in the Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship; he maintains a 16-point advantage over Kenny Coolbeth and Jake Johnson. Johnny Lewis is four back in fourth, with Brad Baker yet another four back in fifth.
The AMA Pro Harley-Davidson Insurance Flat Track Championship now makes a quick trip to the West Coast for the inaugural Salinas TT weekend at Salinas, California's Salinas Sports Complex. There will be a TT race on Saturday, April 23, followed by Short Track on Sunday, April 24. For tickets and information, visit www.salinasflattrack.com.